Maple and Walnut Writing Desk

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Project by eyekode posted 03-03-2012 04:53 AM 4359 views 18 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a writing desk that I built for a quiet place where my kids can study.

The base and frame are made out of maple. The front and drawer fronts are cut from a single board for the continuous grain effect. The base joinery is all mortise and tenon. I was lucky with the wood selection. What looked like scrap maple in the rough turned out to have beautiful figure on the inside.

The top, drawer knobs and drawer sides are black walnut. I turned the knobs on my lathe and fixed them to the drawer fronts using a through wedged tenon.

The drawers are made with half blind dovetails on the front and through dovetails on the back. The drawer bottom is 1/2” thick book matched maple.

All of the walnut is finished with the oil finish made popular by Sam Maloof: 1/3rd BLO, 1/3rd Tung Oil, 1/3rd urethane (I used poly). The maple is finished with multiple coats of blonde shellac only.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this project. And as I sit here typing at the desk it is also a pleasure to use :).

31 comments so far

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 03-03-2012 04:56 AM

That looks great, I have used and seen many contrasting woods in a single project, but this really pops, great choice and it’s a fine looking desk.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3879 days

#2 posted 03-03-2012 05:23 AM

Wow, woodworking at it’s best right there. Well done my friend.

-- I never finish anyth

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#3 posted 03-03-2012 06:22 AM

cool writing desk nice work.


View bytebullet's profile


32 posts in 3646 days

#4 posted 03-03-2012 08:18 AM

excellent looking desk, my wife would love this in our house. great looking timber and joints. thanks for sharing

-- Rod, London UK

View dtblack's profile


12 posts in 3808 days

#5 posted 03-03-2012 12:32 PM

A really clean, graceful design – it has a traditional Shaker/Federal feel, but made a bit more contemporary with the deep bevel you used on the top. I really appreciate a few of the finer details: book matched figured maple drawer bottoms, hand turned knobs affixed with through tenon joinery, and the super tight tolerances on the drawer reveal. Very luxurious. . . congratulations on crafting a beautiful piece of furniture!

View will delaney's profile

will delaney

332 posts in 3975 days

#6 posted 03-03-2012 12:47 PM

Truly built by a craftsman! Great wood working and design. Inspiration inspiration inspiration!!!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6879 posts in 5319 days

#7 posted 03-03-2012 12:51 PM

Very good looking table. That was a great choice of woods.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View cplant's profile


226 posts in 3904 days

#8 posted 03-03-2012 12:57 PM

my favorite part is the drawrs….nice work

-- "...if america is any indication, i was born into one great big vacation...." RMB

View eyekode's profile


30 posts in 4122 days

#9 posted 03-03-2012 01:44 PM

Thanks for all the kind words! I was aiming for modern Shaker with the beveled top and the drawer knobs. I probably could have gone thinner with the legs to make it more Shaker-ish. But I chickened out and left room for more tenon :).

Wood selection took me quite a while. The maple was truly luck of the draw. I have a wonderful QSWO board from a local sawyer that is simply amazing. This project started out as building a table for that one wonderful board. But when I milled the maple it was so interesting the project changed completely into finding a top for the maple base :). For the life of me I could not match the maple from the base with any other maple I could find. In fact this is the third top, the first one was the QSWO. The second one was some other maple I had but when I planed it found the colors/tone was completely different and didn’t match. I even went back to where I got the maple to find more from the same tree. All that was left was very plain and I really wanted the top to be a major point of interest.

Look for another project in a couple months that makes use of the QSWO top. It screams out for an Arts and Crafts design.

This is the first project I have posted to LJ and I appreciate the warm welcome!

View aurora's profile


238 posts in 4592 days

#10 posted 03-03-2012 02:44 PM

love your desk, .... even the drawers are a work of art !!!

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4182 days

#11 posted 03-03-2012 03:11 PM

The story of the build helps me appreciate it more. :) Looks like you have been doing this for awhile? Bookmatched drawer bottoms? LOL! Sweet!

I often say “I’ll come back fore more’ if I like something and it’s usually gone?

Nice work, look forward to your next piece.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View wrench's profile


332 posts in 3954 days

#12 posted 03-03-2012 03:34 PM

Beautifully done. The wood and work are both amazing. Thanks for sharing.

-- WrenchsWoodworks

View grumpy749's profile


228 posts in 3717 days

#13 posted 03-03-2012 03:43 PM

This is truly a beauty. Tables are my favourite projects and this one really stands out. I often use maple and walnut in my work but often experience trouble staining maple. Your finish is beautiful. Figured maple is the best.

-- Denis in Grande Prairie. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mistery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.....Pink !

View eyekode's profile


30 posts in 4122 days

#14 posted 03-03-2012 04:08 PM

Doc, I have only been building for a couple years but I read a lot and take inspiration from the projects posted here and other forums. Maybe I have matured some in my WW though because I usually tell everyone what I did wrong and never mention the things that went well. The bookmatched drawer bottoms are the result of buying a new bandsaw with more than 6” of resaw. I just had to try it out :).

Thanks Grumpy. I have to admit I have very little finishing skill. Before this piece I was pretty much a one trick pony using BLO/MS/Poly mixture on everything. But it imparts a little yellow to maple and I wanted the maple to stay as pale as possible. The shellac was really easy to apply and it doesn’t hide the wood. I now have two tricks!

View dustyal's profile


1322 posts in 4815 days

#15 posted 03-03-2012 05:11 PM

Beautiful detail.. book matched drawer bottoms… you went all out… and I like the detail of the knob install… it is those details that set you apart from others. Well done.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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